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Proposed Sunday Sales Anger Weston Store Owner

WESTON, Conn. – Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposal to lift many of the state’s longstanding liquor laws might look like a win-win to many. But Larry Vavrek , owner of the only liquor store in Weston, doesn't see it that way.

“I was very disappointed when I heard about this, and to be honest, it has kept me up at night a few times this week,” said Vavrek, owner of Peter’s Spirit Shop on Weston Road.

The proposal would eliminate minimum pricing, which Malloy says would lower costs for consumers. It would also allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays, holidays and Mondays that follow Sunday holidays. The governor also expects to see additional revenue if the law were changed.

But Vavrek said he doesn’t see the state, his liquor store or any other mom-and-pop spirit shop in the area making much money off the proposed change. “I really don’t think this will help anyone. If anything, it’s going to hurt the smaller businesses,” Vavrek said.

The purpose, according to Malloy, is to keep Connecticut competitive with neighboring states. The only state in the country that bans Sunday sales of alcohol is Indiana.

Malloy’s plan may possibly allow certain grocery stores to create separate package stores. But instead of staying competitive with other states, Vavrek said the move would also pit large chain stores, such as BJ’s, Stop & Shop or Costco, against local mom-and-pop stores such as his.

In rural Weston, many residents pass large chain grocery stores that sell alcohol on their way home, which would eliminate the town’s need for a local liquor store. “If this goes through, my business will be worth nothing,” he said.

“Honestly, it’s hard enough to find people who want to work on a Saturday until 8 p.m. now. What am I going to do when I need some to come in on Sundays or on a holiday?” he said. “I am not looking for Sunday sales at all, it wouldn’t help me one bit. I am really hoping that this doesn’t go through."

But Vavrek’s next-door neighbor, Jim Magee, proprietor of Peter’s Market , says he envisions nothing but good things if Malloy’s idea becomes law. “I definitely get phone calls from people who are wondering if we sell alcohol on the weekends,” Magee said.

Although Peter’s Market does not sell alcohol, Magee said he sees Malloy’s plan benefiting the entire state. “I really don’t think any of this will be negative for business. If anything, I think it can only draw more people into the center.”

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